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From Player to Coach: Bryan Collins

By Brian Riley
Staff Writer

The football team concluded what has been an incredible season; filled with comebacks, heartbreaks, and exceeded expectations. After two consecutive losing seasons, the Pioneers have turned it around this season, and much of the credit is

due to their head coach, Bryan Collins. Before the season even started and months before training camp was in sight, Collins had the depth chart-board wide open, preparing for the season ahead.

On the railing of the depth chart sits a dirty old horseshoe that Collins found during a jog around campus prior to last season. Collins picked it up, hoping it was a good luck charm, after going 5-11 during the 2012-2013 season. Collins, who is also the head Athletic Director, thought a little luck might be needed to keep up this balancing act between football and his family.

During the fall season, Collins enters the Pratt Recreation Center at 8 a.m. and leaves at 12 p.m. Collins, a husband and a father of two, struggles during the season to see his family. “Unfortunately, there isn’t much balance. You sacrifice certain things for your career,” Collins said.

Collins played middle linebacker throughout his high school and college career. At St. John’s University, he won the Dr. Peter Vitulli Award, which is given to athletes with the most perseverance and courage. Collins ultimately graduated with a Business Management degree from the university. It was a year after graduation that he realized an office job wasn’t the route for him. Although he headed into the city looking for work, he continued to work out, hoping that an NFL team would give him a call. They never did, but Collins was committed to making a living out of the sport he loved.

In preparation for a career in football, Collins returned to his high school alma mater, Saint Francis Preparatory School, as an assistant coach. After several years of coaching there, Collins ultimately got the head-coaching job at LIU Post in 1998.

Perseverance is a trait Collins has continually exhibited throughout his life. He recently celebrated the seven-year anniversary of his kidney transplant. Collins had surgery in the off-season, and never missed a game.

Collins is not just a coach, but a teacher as well. “It’s great to stand in front of a group of young men and look into their eyes and they’re looking back at you, and you just feel they are paying attention to what you have to say,” Collins said.

Mike Sollenne, junior offensive lineman, gets to listen to his speeches firsthand. “He’s a yeller sometimes, but every coach is,” Sollenne said. Despite his first two seasons being losing ones, Sollenne finds comfort in Collins’ past success.

During his first eight seasons as a head coach, he led the Pioneers to a 73 -17 record. Sollenne also supports the coach on his 5,000-hour community service goal for all of LIU’s student- athletes. “It’s great to do a lot of community stuff,” Sollenne said. Collins’ passion for community service comes from his belief that: “We are so fortunate to be able to play [and] with service you appreciate what you have,” Collins said.

“Communication is paramount to every relationship,” Collins added. As a middle linebacker in college, it was his responsibility to communicate with his team and it was his responsibility to make adjustments. Collins uses those same communications skills in his role as athletic director. It is clear that Collins’ love for sports has rubbed off on his children, including his daughter, Megan, who played four sports in high school.

Collins also expects progress off the field, according to Ian Schraier, Director of Athletic Media Relations at LIU Post and a 2007 graduate of the university. Schraier has firsthand knowledge of that commitment, since their offices are footsteps away. “Collins pushed me when I was a student working in the office, and now as an employee,” Schraier said. worse.”Collins said, “If you’re staying the same, you’re getting

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